March #33 : Protease Inhibited - by Scott Hess

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March 1998

Protease Inhibited

by Scott Hess

Kids, stress, "I forgot": Many just can't take it anymore

Do you miss protease doses: a) never, b) sometimes, c) frequently? You're supposed to answer a) but if you didn't, you're not alone. A December survey by Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) revealed that many people on protease are MIA on meds. In fact, three quarters of GMHC clients surveyed had missed doses in the previous week, and one tenth on that day.

"A broad spectrum of people found adherence difficult—if not impossible—to manage," said GMHC head Mark Robinson. And a recent San Francisco General Hospital survey only confirms this assessment: One fifth of 164 protease poppers said they had missed one or more doses within the last three days.

A few fun facts to lighten the gloom: women were most likely to cite "child care and family obligation" as the reason for falling off their regimen, while gay men opted for "stress, anxiety and depression," and straight men said simply, "I forgot." And GMHC survey coordinator Dr. Perry Halkitis was surprised at the extent to which families of straight men help ease the adherence burden. But busybodies are a bonus, since many docs seem not to be adequately taking care of business. Although all respondents said they had discussed protease inhibitors with their physicians, almost one fifth said he or she did not clearly explain side effects, resistance or other consequences of nonadherence. "Doctors need to do a better job of educating their patients," Halkitis said.

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